Sunday, August 16, 2015

NYT  untimed (Doug) 
LAT 6:35 (Andy) 
Reagle 16:27 (Sam) 
Hex/Hook tk (pannonica) 
CS 15:46 (Ade) 

Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword – “As It Were”

NY Times - 8/16/15 solution

NY Times – 8/16/15 solution – “As It Were”

Howdy, crossword fans. Doug here with a quick Sunday post. The theme is phrases ending with words that are also past tense verbs.

  • 22a, [*Pricey wrap], MINK STOLE. STOLE = past tense of STEAL.
  • 23a, [*Triple Crown winner who himself sired a Kentucky Derby winner], SEATTLE SLEW. SLEW = past tense of SLAY. You get the idea
  • 51a, [*Carpenters’ tool with a cord], POWER SAW
  • 94a, [*Deep Throat’s identity], MARK FELT.
  • 122a, [*Start a construction project], BREAK GROUND.
  • 13d, [*Smidgen], LITTLE BIT.
  • 36d, [*Tom Seaver, e.g.], NEW YORK MET.
  • 45d, [*Dr. Seuss’ genre], KIDDIE LIT.
  • 48d, [*Challenge for a right-handed golfer], DOGLEG LEFT.
  • 83d, [*W.W. II propagandist], TOKYO ROSE.
  • 124d, [Back then … or a hint to the ends of the answers to the starred clues], IN THE PAST

That’s a lot of theme answers and I like that some of them intersect. It would have been more fun to have objects with the transitive verbs. MINK STOLE SECOND BASE, KIDDIE LIT CIGAR, MARK FELT [Fill in your own object for that one]. I’m not sure that makes sense, but I think the theme needs a little more oomph for a Sunday.

  • curly82a, [___ Hall, shortest Harlem Globetrotter], TOO TALL. I was a huge Globetrotter fan growing up. Curly Neal was the man! Too Tall Hall is 5’2″ and it says on Wikipedia that he was traded from the Washington Generals to the Globetrotters. Huh?
  • 122a, [Hedge clippings, grass cuttings, etc.], YARD WASTE. Good answer, but it confused me at first. Two-word phrase & nine letters long. I thought it was a theme answer.
  • 76a, [Ungainly], AWKWARD. One of my favorite words. I love that WKW string. Speaking of awkward …
  • 120d / 121d, [Grieg’s “___ Death”] / [Violins and violas: Abbr.], ASE’S / STRS. Ouch. That’s a tough way to close out the puzzle in the lower right. Those triple-stacks of 9-letter entries are tough to fill cleanly when one of the 9’s is a theme entry. The New York Times allows a maximum of 140 words in a Sunday puzzle, which is too low IMO. I’d allow constructors to use 142 or even 144 words. A slight increase in the word count would go a long way towards avoiding things like ASE’S / STRS.

I see some of you have started discussing the puzzle in the comments. Please, carry on. Peterson out.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “Homophonic Hijinks”–Sam Donaldson’s review

Homophonic Hijinks (solution)

Homophonic Hijinks (solution)

‘Twas the night before school starts, and all through the campus, not a lecture was ready, and halls smelled o’ cannabis.

Well, not really. That’s just the best short poem I can compose on this, the day before school starts for me. I need to figure out what to lecture about tomorrow, so let’s get right to the review. This week, Merl gives us an introduction: “Some words just sound like something else, as in a joke I heard when I was 12, ‘I have nine buttons on my coat, but I can only FASCINATE.’ Hence this puzzle.

That intro reminds me of the joke, “Why do all the other numbers fear 7? Because 7 ate 9!” Happily, the homophones in this puzzle are funnier:

  • [A distinct possibility of Doris and Patti won’t sing?] is that DINAH MIGHT (dynamite). That’s Dinah Shore, for you younger solvers. My generation knows her as a singer, talk show host, and golfer. She was romantically linked to a guy named Burt Reynolds; they were the Khloe and Lamar of their day. (The others mentioned in the clue, by the way, are contemporaries Doris Day and Patti Page.)
  • “Satirize” becomes SADDER EYES, [What my basset hound may have, compared to yours?].
  • To [Perform a certain Shakespeare role?] is to PLAY KATE. To placate your curiosity, that’s Kate from The Taming of the Shrew. Yep, plain Kate,
    (and bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst, but Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom, Kate of Kate Hall, and my super-dainty Kate).
  • The [Things to see in a certain city?] are PARIS SIGHTS (parasites). The clue feels awfully vague. Would “…certain French city?” or “…certain European capital?” give away too much?
  • You might call a [Spud?] a COMMON TATER (commentator).
  • To [Go by a burning building?] is to PASS A FIRE (pacifier). I would say that answer “sucks,” but I’m afraid few of you would get the joke. And besides, it’s a good answer.
  • The [Corn price?] is a BUCK AN EAR (buccaneer). Like the joke, “That’s a cute pirate costume, Timmy. Where are your buccaneers?” “Right here, under my buckin’ hat!”
  • “Palisades” become PALACE AIDES, or [Advisers to the king?].
  • I like this one a lot: “Bacchanalian” becomes BACK AN ALIEN, or [Support a candidate from outer space?].
  • And this one’s also a gem: The [Broadway musical about a WWI battle?] is OH VERDUN (“overdone”).
  • Why “perspire” when you can be a PURSE BUYER, a [Bag purchaser?].
  • Finally, “kamikaze” becomes COMIC OZZIE, or [Nelson as a stand-up?]. For those that needed the intel on Dinah Shore, some annotation may likewise help here. Before there was Ozzy Osbourne, there was Ozzie Nelson and his wife, Harriet. Together, they starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, a sitcom that ran for 14 seasons. Their family was more or less the blueprint for how families in the 1950s and early 1960s were supposed to be.

So that’s a cool dozen theme entries, each from 8 to 11 letters in length. They’re very strategically placed so that while there’s a good thematic density, it doesn’t wreak havoc on the fill.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t tough spots. For me, especially, that southwest corner took a while to unravel. Unsurprisingly, you’ll see some of those entries in this week’s countdown of the hardest answers, now sponsored by the new compact gaming device, the Nintendo Wee Wii:

  • 5. THE PO is [Italy’s longest river] and the one with the shortest name.
  • 4. Just when I thought I knew all the EZRAs, along comes [TV pundit/blogger Klein].
  • 3. The [Poetic pause] is a CAESURA. Says you-a.
  • 2. Wikipedia says ATHOL Fugard is a South African author “best known for his political plays opposing the system of apartheid and for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film of his novel, Tsotsi.”
  • 1. The answer to [1906 scandal figure Evelyn ___] is NESBIT. Take it away, Wikipedia: “As a stage performer, and while still a 14-year-old, [Nesbit] attracted the attention of the then 47-year-old architect and New York socialite Stanford White, who first gained the family’s trust then sexually assaulted Evelyn while she was unconscious. Nesbit achieved world-wide notoriety when her jealous husband, multi-millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw, shot and murdered Stanford White on the rooftop theatre of Madison Square Garden on the evening of June 25, 1906, leading to what the press would call ‘The Trial of the Century.’

Favorite entry = KID SISTERS ([Jo, Bet and Amy, to Meg]). Favorite clue = [Notes for a staff] for the decidedly non-musical MEMOS.

Clive Probert’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “R&D”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 08.16.15, "R&D," by Clive Probert

LAT Puzzle 08.16.15, “R&D,” by Clive Probert

Take a phrase with one part that starts with “R,” put a “D” in front of that “R,” hilarity. That’s Clive Probert’s formula this week:

  • 23a, ANTI-DROLL BAR [Saloon with a strict no quipping pollicy?]. Anti-roll bar.
  • 35a, WHITEWATER DRAFTING [Art class focused on river rapids?]. Whitewater rafting.
  • 52a, GETS A DRAIN CHECK [Has the downspouts inspected?]. Gets a raincheck.
  • 76a, A DRAKE’S PROGRESS [Portrait of Donald’s life?]. A Rake’s Progress. Thought this was gonna be about Donald Trump for the longest time, but it turned out to be about Donald Duck instead.
  • 89a, DREADS THE FINE PRINT [Worries about contract details?]. Reads the fine print.
  • 108a, SKATING DRINK [Refreshment after some winter recreation?]. Skating rink.

All solid theme entries, though only DREADS THE FINE PRINT changes the original pronunciation. Only six theme entries, which usually means there’s a lot of long non-theme fill elsewhere. Highlights include the MACARONI / AVOCADOS / DELIRIUM stack, AT THIS RATE / IN ANY EVENT, and EAR-TO-EAR.

A lot of the fill in this one was pretty good, but jeez were there some clunkers: I’m talking about THES., ANAG., MARRIEDS(?!), EEE WIDTH, ASE’S (with ASE elsewhere in the grid, no less), DESC., and that’s not including the standard stuff like IS ME and -OID and A NAME and ON OR. The whole point of having fewer theme answers, to me, is to make sure the surrounding fill is both interesting and free from junk. There was definitely interesting stuff like MERMAID and COLORADO and WRESTLING and ACIDIFY, but it was hard to ignore the bad stuff that came with it.

Also, take note, editors: It’s time to start cluing PRATT as mega-successful actor Chris, not with [Brooklyn institute]. As a Brooklynite, you have my permission to move on.

Until next time!

Patrick Jordan’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 08.16.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 08.16.15

Good morning, everyone! Today’s my last day in Montréal, so I better make being here for the last few hours count. Well, part of the day will be spent watching Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray play in the finals of the men’s singles tennis tournament, along with seeing the Bryan Brothers play in the doubles final. Definitely can’t complain about that.

Obviously, the first part of this Sunday was spent solving today’s Sunday Challenge, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan. After a slow start in the Northeast, this Sunday Challenge proved to lean towards easy, as once I got a foothold in the grid, I pretty much was on the road to completion, and, relatively speaking, pretty quickly. What held me up at the top having ZACHARY QUINTO pop in and out of my head, as I knew his name had Q somewhere  in it (20A: [Spock portrayer in “Star Trek Into Darkness”]). The other entry in the little Star Trek mini theme, USS ENTERPRISE, was pretty much a gimme, and part of what opened everything up soon enough (53A: [Setting in “Star Trek Into Darkness]). That answer pretty much confirmed my hunch on GOES POOF as well (38D: [Vanishes]). Though without the hyphen in the grid, I liked the fill of A-LISTERS (35A; [Member of the social elite]), and I especially liked the French words incorporated in OLIVE (31D: [Salad niçoise tidbit]). So something Niçoise is native of Nice, France, huh?! Good to know! Has anyone here ever pulled an ABDOMINAL muscle before (11D: [“Washboard” muscle])? This person has, and let me tell you…it SUCKS!  Real bad! OK, on to happier thoughts, which means sports, as that makes me happy…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROMAN (2D: [Subject of Caesar])– Professional football assistant coach Greg ROMAN is the current offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. Roman was hired this year, as he spent the last four seasons as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, where he, along with former Forty-Niner head coach Jim Harbaugh, helped to lead the 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship Games, including reaching Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 season.

I will see you tomorrow, and will do so back in the United States! Vous allez me manquer, Montréal!

Au revoir!


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12 Responses to Sunday, August 16, 2015

  1. cyberdiva says:

    Pannonica’s discussion of the NYT puzzle for Sunday (Aug. 16) returns a “not found” response. So too the discussion of the Reagle puzzle. I’ve tried several variations, but I didn’t find one that worked. Has anyone found the NYTimes discussion? If so, could you please post the URL that worked? Thanks.

    • Gary R says:

      The link isn’t working for the Reagle review, but it’s there – just scroll up from the comments to find it. As for the NYT, I believe the “tk” where you would usually see the solving time, indicates that it hasn’t been posted yet.

  2. jane lewis says:

    when i did merl’s puzzle the Dinah i thought of was Dinah Washington instead of Dinah Shore and i can see that Dinah Shore fits in better with then clue than Dinah Washington.

  3. jefe says:

    @Sam: My puzzle says [Things to see in a certain *romantic* city?], which certainly points to Paris.

  4. Gary R says:

    Enjoyed Reagle’s theme – most of the themers got at least a smile from me. Like Sam, I lost some time in the SW – caesura and Atheron were both unfamiliar.

    After an iffy start with the unfamiliar AFFIANCED and BREL (and Secretariat instead of SEATTLE SLEW), the NYT was a pretty fast solve for me. At the end though, I still couldn’t suss out the theme. Went to xwordinfo for an explanation, and I guess it’s fine – but not one of those themes that was going to help me solve the puzzle.

    At xwordinfo, they show the historical usage of each of the answers in the puzzle, and I was surprised to see that 21 of the answers in this puzzle are first-timers, at least in the Shortz era. Seemed like a high number of new answers to me (though I don’t often look at that listing) and many of them I was surprised had not appeared before in the NYT.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      NYT theme was phrases where the last word is a past-tense verb: MINK STOLE, SEATTLE SLEW, POWER SAW, MARK FELT, BREAK GROUND, LITTLE BIT, KIDDIE LIT, DOGLEG LEFT, NEW YORK MET, TOKYO ROSE, all leading to IN THE PAST. I was lucky enough to “get” it right away & solved this much faster than ever before: 41 mins, which is a real outlier in my history & also happens to be the number of Tom Seaver, a boyhood hero who was referenced in a theme clue. So I loved this puzzle & can’t review it rationally. Channeling Amy she would have been frustrated by the fact that there were also several multi-word clues with present tense verbs: INK PAD, DEEP SET, GAS GRILL, APPLE PAY (& perhaps OH PLEASE) & not a little crosswordese, even though, as noted above, plenty of new fill too. Sorry that’s all I got.

  5. Phyllis Schoen says:

    You did not comment on 51 down which contains the only misspelled answer I can recall. My research told me Star had only one r. Right?

  6. Amy L says:

    NY Times and LA Times: Yesterday, Lola Falana. Today, Ase’s Death.

    I too thought of Donald Trump before Donald Duck. It’s so easy to get them confused, what with the loud quacking.

    I really liked the LA Times, partly because I really didn’t like the NY Times today–it wasn’t much of a theme.

    Can someone please explain LA Times 102D? How is one in a ball game a “seer”?

    • Gary R says:

      How is one in a ball game a “seer”?

      “Crystal” ball, maybe?

      • Amy L says:

        Thanks, Gary. I thought of that, but I wouldn’t call gazing into a crystal ball a game. Maybe the clue could have been “One with an eye on the ball” or “One watching the ball.” Still pretty lame.

  7. Bob says:

    Finally a thoroughly enjoyable Reagle entry. No weird spellings, no def stretches – what a relief! I hope this is a trend!!

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